Generally accepted as one of the best modern golf resorts in America, Bandon Dunes further enhanced an already stellar reputation with the unveiling of another world-class 18-hole layout in the summer of 2010. When developer Mike Keiser decided to expand his burgeoning Oregon golf complex, he turned to the tried and trusted Renaissance Design company that built Pacific Dunes a decade earlier and so Tom Doak and Jim Urbina headed up the team that took three years to create the Old Macdonald course.
The fourth 18-hole layout to grace the Bandon Dunes property, Old Macdonald, has been built in the architectural spirit of Charles Blair Macdonald and Seth Raynor. Macdonald is widely regarded as the Father of American golf course architecture, designing the momentous National Golf Links of America on Long Island a century before, with Raynor acting as his construction engineer. Many of the National holes like “Redan,” “Sahara” and “Alps” are based on their famous British originals and these inspirational classic holes have equivalents on the new tribute course at Bandon Dunes.
The landscape for Old Macdonald is totally different to that found on the Pacific Dunes layout so it’s no real surprise to learn that the courses are totally different in style, even if the same architect was involved in their design. The course begins inland, moves over the dunes on the 3rd then spends most of the round in the open with splendid views of the Pacific before heading inland again on the last two holes. Three of the four par threes on the scorecard are played on the front nine at holes 2, 5 and 8 so visitors are advised to have their short game in good order as it will be severely tested early in the round.
Fairways are very forgiving, often 60 to 80 yards in width, and (like the original National course) the greens are enormous with a combined area in excess of 6 acres – almost as big and as bold as the putting surfaces on the Old Course at St Andrews. Although they all look natural, only two of the putting surfaces (on holes 3 and 9) occupy true, lie of the land green sites, which speaks volumes for the work of the shapers on the remaining 16 holes, as their greens blend in seamlessly with their surroundings.
I first visited the Bandon Dunes resort in 2008 and could tell that it had 3 world class courses, each with different architects. With a reputation of being the best golf destination in America, the sheer whispers of a 4th course being created sent ripples of excitement around the golfing community. There is so much precious golfing canvas at Bandon that people will come from far and wide to play. Every living architect wants a course at Bandon.
This past September, I once again arrived at Bandon Dunes with such great anticipation of playing Old MacDonald. With its recent induction into the Top 100 golf courses in the USA and the world by Golf Magazine, and with Tom Doak signing off on the layout, the bar was set pretty high.
Once you come over the hill on the 3rd hole, you bear witness to a vast stretch of glorious links-land. The greens at Old Mac made my jaw drop and I credit Doak for an excellent result at Old MacDonald.
There are many outstanding links holes and really force the golfer to play the bump-and-run shot. You know you’re on a superb golf course which can’t be found anywhere else in America. The best holes for me included the 9th (Cape), 10th (Bottle), 11th (Road) and 16th (Alps). I’m confident that I will play this course again, and I’m sure the more I play it, the more I’ll appreciate it.